Have you ever wondered what kind of value does a book have? Is its value estimated from its content, from the cover or both?
I have always believed that books are the most beautiful objects on earth. Yes, we all buy books to read but the value of a book can not truly be costed by human resources, like money. Think about it: At the end of a reading, the power of the book dominates us and gives us a kind of mental serenity. So, how is it possible to be costed?
However, I did a research with the most expensive books ever sold and I decided to present them to you.
10. The Tales of Beedle the Bard (£3.98 million)
A collection of children’s stories by British author J.K. Rowling, «The Tales of Beedle the Bard» (also appears in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as a farewell gift from Dumbledore to Hermione). Having grown up in a family of pure-blood wizards, Ron is familiar the book and its fairy tales of wizardry. Hermione and Harry had no idea since they both had non-magical upbringings. Most importantly, this book acts as a medium that facilitates Xenophilius Lovegood’s retelling of «The Tale of Three Brothers».
During an interview, Rowling revealed that Geoffrey Chaucer’s «The Pardoner’s Tale» acted as a source of inspiration for the her «Tale of the Three Brothers» and their grim fate.
This book was originally produced through handwritten notes and illustrations by Rowling herself, who intended to donate the profit to The Children’s Voice charity campaign. While six of them were bequeathed to those who were very involved in the Harry Potter series, one of them, referred to as as «The Moonstone Edition» was sold for auction at the Sotheby’s in 2007. Later in 2016, another copy was auctioned for £368,750.
9. Canterbury Tales (4,6 million)
The «Canterbury Tales» is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century (two of them in prose, the rest in verse). The tales, some of which are originals and others are not. Only 12 copies of the original draft of Geoffrey Chaucer still exist and this one was purchased by London book dealers in 1998.
8. Gutenberg Bible ($4.9 million)
This is the first ever book printed with the movable print in the West, this book symbolizes the commencement of print and a moment of revolutionary change in the history of communication. Despite its status as a literary icon, it only earned a 10th place on this list. However, the purchase occurred in 1987 and it is estimated to value at $25-35 million nowadays.
7. First Folio: Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories & Tragedies ($6.16 million)
This collection of Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623 originally had 750 copies but fewer than one-third are believed to still exist. 82 of the copies can be found at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The most expensive one was sold at an auction in 2001 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
6. The Birds of America ($11.5 million)
This is a book by naturalist and painter John James Audubon that includes a vast array of bird species, 6 of which have become extinct since the time of illustration. Amongst the 119 available copies throughout the world, three of the most expensive ones were sold at prices of $11.5 million, $8.8 million and $7.9 million.
5. Bay Psalm Book ($14.5 million)
This is the first book ever printed in what is now known as the United States and it was created in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts twenty years after pilgrims had arrived. Nowadays, a total of 11 copies are believed to be distributed throughout the country in universities such as Harvard and Yale and libraries such as the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress. American financier David Rubenstein bought a copy of the printed book for more than $14 million from Boston’s Old South Church.
The printing was the third copy of Stephen Day and it consisted 148 small quarto leaves, including a 12 page preference. An estimated 1,700 copies of the first edition were printed.
4. St. Cuthbert Gospel ($15.1 million)
Also known as the «Stonyhurst Gospel», the St. Cuthbert gospel of St. John is an early 8th Century pocket gospel book, written in Latin. Its finely decorated leather binding gave the book an outstanding condition to survive to this age.
The book takes the name of Saint Cuthbert of North England in whose tomb it was placed. The pocket sized book measures 138 by 92 millimeters (5.4 x 3.6 in), written uncial script on 94 vellum folios.
It is Europe’s oldest book and it was bought at a fee of US $15.1 million by the British Library in 2011.
3. Magna Carta ($24.5 million)
«Magna Carta», also called «Magna Carta Libertatum», is a Latin word meaning the Great Charter. It’s a charter agreed by King John of England and Runnymede near Windsor on 15th June 1215 so that there would be peace between the unpopular king and a group of rebel barons.
The charter became part of English political life and was typically renewed by each Monarch in turn. In 19th December 2007, David Rubenstein, co-founder of the private-equity firm Carlyle Group bought a 1297 copy of the «Magna Carta» for US $24.5 million including commission at Sotheby’s in New York where it was being auctioned.
2. Gospels of Henry the Lion ($28.0 million)
Considered as a masterpiece of Romanesque Book Illumination, it has been the most expensive book in the world until Bill Gates purchased Codex Leicester in 1994. It is now kept at the Herzog August Bibliotek in Wolfenbuttel and for security purposes, its display is only available every two years.
1. Codex Leicester ($30.8 million)
Also known as «Codex Hammer», it was written by the famous scientist Leonardo da Vinci in the early 16th Century. The manuscript holds the record for the sale price of any book when it was sold to Bill gates at Christie’s auction house on November 11, 1994 in New York for US $ 30,802,500.
The codex addressed various scientific theories such as; the movement of water which is the main topic of the codex, an explanation of why fossils can be found on mountains and the luminosity of the moon. Written single-handedly by the mathematician himself.